Florida bill silences LGBTQ history and education

Florida’s house bill 1557, which is being called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by some, seeks to limit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, which would be incredibly damaging to LGBTQ students and hinder their education.

The bill states that school districts cannot encourage the discussions in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students, according to the Associated Press. While bill sponsors say that it will not stop lessons on things like Pride month, the bill’s wording is vague and leaves it up to the parents to determine what is appropriate. 

Parents would be the ones enforcing the law, so it would be up to them to determine what is appropriate. If the parent finds a classroom or teacher violates the potential law, they would be allowed to sue the school district.

Banning certain words and topics would make it impossible to teach important moments in history properly like the Stonewall Riots, which cannot be taught effectively without mentioning sexual identity or gender identity. This country has had a long history of anti-LGBTQ laws and policies and to leave what parts of that history is taught and how erases that history. All of history should be taught, no matter how bad it may make some people feel.

Not only will this hinder education, it is a violation of the First Amendment. There have been many cases of people actively discriminating against LGBTQ people under the guise of freedom of religion and is considered protected under the First Amendment. There is no reason discrimination should be allowed, but speech that would teach students LGBTQ history should be banned or limited.

An original provision of the bill also required teachers to notify parents if a student is talking about LGBTQ topics or if a student comes out in class, essentially allowing for students to be outed and jeopardizing their personal safety. This part of the bill was removed after intense backlash on Tuesday, and rightfully so. Many LGBTQ students find support in the school system and banning these topics will make students feel like they are not supported and could put these students in dangerous situations.

The Florida house of representatives advanced the bill on Tuesday and is waiting for a final vote.

This bill reeks of hypocrisy, homophobia and transphobia and should not be allowed to pass.

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